This week I continue my quest to bring you natural remedies for every common ailment your child might face! If you missed my previous posts, check out my suggested natural remedies for:
…and today…SINUS INFECTIONS! (ouch.)
What is a sinus infection?
Sinus infections occur when the mucous membranes in the nasal cavity become irritated by a virus, allergen. There are two main types of sinus irritation. When the mucus membrane secretes too much mucus due to an allergy or virus the sinus infection is called catarrh. Symptoms of this condition include a persistent runny nose or consistent cough/clearing of throat caused by mucus running down the throat. The other condition, sinusitis, evolves when the membrane becomes sore and inflamed. Symptoms include pain in the sinuses, especially when bending over, nasal discharge, congestion or blockage in sinuses, sinus headaches.
What causes a sinus infection?
There are several causes of sinus irritation and infection including allergies (food and environmental) and the most common cause, a viral infection.
Why does conventional medicine prescribe antibiotics for sinus infections?
While sinus infections are caused by virus infections the majority of the time, conventional medicine continues to prescribe antibiotics even though they have been proven to be no more effective than a placebo. (source) Over the counter nasal decongestants and antihistamines may also be prescribed and while these drugs can provide temporary relief for a short while, symptoms may worsen when the medication wears off (source)
Natural remedies for sinus infections.
The good news about sinus infections? You can generally support your immune system naturally by using a few simple natural remedies. The next time you or your child are suffering from a sinus infection, try these remedies:
Warm Compress: To relieve pressure and help to encourage drainage of the sinuses, place a warm compress on the sinuses for 3-5 minutes a few times a day as needed.
Sinus Steam Bath: Put a few drops of pine essential oil in a steaming bowl of water. Lean over bowl and inhale the steam for 5-10 minutes. Monitor your child carefully as the water should be boiling hot for optimal effectiveness. Use caution.
Kid-friendly Detox Bath: Giving your child a detox bath will allow the body to eliminate toxins to support the immune system.
Nutrition: As with all times of illness, it is important to “eat cleanly” during a sinus infection. Decrease or avoid inflammatory foods like sugar, dairy, gluten, processed vegetable oils and trans fats. Increase intake of clear fluids to help the body clear out excess mucous. Clear broths such as tea (chamomile is great for soothing irritated nasal passageways), bone broth, or filtered water are best.
Lifestyle: Rest and sleep allow the body to repair and heal. Cut back on activities as much as possible while your child is recovering from a sinus infection.
Sinus Irrigation: Many swear by the neti pot for sinus infections and I don’t doubt it’s effective, however, I’ve tried it several times and all I get is a raging headache. Sinus irrigation with a saline solution and a squirt bottle can also help. Check out this post to learn more.
Herbs and supplements to consider for sinus infections.
Vitamin C: Buffered vitamin C powder is easiest on children’s tummies.
Probiotics: It is important to increase your child’s probiotic intake during a sinus infection to help support healthy digestive and immune function. Make sure to choose a high quality supplement that has a high adherence rate. Probiotics may also be obtained through fermented foods like cultured vegetables and beverages like Kevita, a cultured coconut water.
Fermented Cod Liver Oil: Naturally packed full of vitamin A and D, this supplement supports immune function.
Special considerations for recurring sinus infections.
If a child has recurring sinus infections, consider the following:
1) Have your child tested for food allergies and food sensitivities. Your child should be tested for both IgE AND IgG antibodies, and potentially IgM and IgA antibodies as well. Find a doctor or naturopath who does functional medical testing. Only a functional test will test the correct parameters. Conventional doctors often only test for IgE antibodies and usually IgG antibodies are the biggest problem for kids.
2) Consider doing an elimination diet with children to lower overall inflammation and also identify problem foods. You may also work with a holistic nutritionist to help repair the digestive tract with a gut-healing protocol.
3) Consider environmental allergies as a possible trigger. Many children with recurring sinus infections have environmental allergies. You can help lower inflammation by greening your living space. Use Hepa air filters, non-toxic cleaners, and personal care products, non-toxic cookware, etc. To find out more about clean indoor living visit the Environmental Working Group.
Learn more about treating a sinus infection naturally in these great posts: